Back in November, Lee came to stay with me for a week or so while he was looking for a new flat. We decided to make the most of the time by collaborating on a new side project.
In between making food, walking the dog, and working from home, we took turns writing and recording parts of what turned out to be a five track EP. Lee focussed on the drums, guitar, and bass, while I added the vocals and electronic parts. Both of us helped shape the structure and feel of the tracks, and Lee did some kind of production wizardry to make it all sound fantastic.
Gear wise we had a pretty simple setup, despite what the pictures below suggest. Lee had a basic audio interface for the instruments, I used a cheapy Behringer condenser mic for the vocals, and the synthy parts were almost all based on a single Eurorack voice (utilising a C64 SID chip). Listening back, it’s pretty crazy to think that the songs can sound so huge when they were literally all recorded between my kitchen and living room.
One of the coolest bits about the project for me was the collaborative part though. It’s easy to get stuck when you are working alone. Here though, whenever we hit a block, we would just pass what we had on to the other person. More often that not, they would hear the potential in what we thought sounded crap, which helped push the process along. A healthy way to produce, and truly collaborative rather than combative.
You can download the EP for free over on the Cow Tongue Taco Records label page. It will be available to stream on Spotify etc from the end of the month, and there will also be a limited cassette tape version available too.
When I was recording drouth, there were a bunch of tracks that I wish had vocals, but that I couldn’t quite come up with something on my own. In the end, it worked out for the album that they remained largely instrumental… but I thought it would be cool to get some different folks to do their own take on vocals.
As part of that, musician pal Christy Scott lent me her voice for a couple of tracks. Ultimately, the idea is to release all of them as a collection. For now though, here’s a new version of ‘mex’, with Christy on vocals. I think it sounds pretty great…
You can download it here. (right click > save as).
unexpected bowtie (and friends) is an album that started in 2011 as a means of collecting different sounds from some of the hardest working, most creative, and most pleasant people that I’d come to know in music.
Taking everything from ambient guitar noises to crazed loops of a Welshman throwing rocks into a wheelbarrow – I pieced them together to produce this jaunty beast.
Despite having been finished almost 2 years ago, and with most of the tracks previewed already, the whole thing has never been quite ready – partially because I still have some samples left over from one band that I’ve just not been able to work out what on earth to do with. (down to my musical incompetence, not theirs!). Hopefully these will make their way into something astounding sometime soon, but the time for this release to make its way into the world is well overdue.
Click on the accompanying artwork above to take you to the new shiny shiny unexpected bowtie bandcamp where you can download the whole thing for free for the first time.
Here’s a spaced out new track which is made up primarily from bits sent through courtesy of Calamateur (pictured below), as well as some completely mashed up guitar from Reading’s Yer Beauties (pictured above), and some crazy distortion donated by Lee from Everyone an Army (not pictured).
When I was about 16 I went on a rather screwed up weekend that I had at the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham, as I travelled along with a band called Poor Old Ben.
Out of the several vivid memories I have from those few days, seeing an acoustic guitarist with a particularly amazing voice by the name of Andy Howie aka Calamateur play in a wee room up the top of the racecourse stands out on its own. I even remember the way he slung his guitar carelessly over his back and disappeared down the stairs in front of us afterwards.
Calamateur takes a whole host of strange sounds and bits and pieces and moulds them into some haunting, beautiful tracks. He’s been good enough to record some things for me to butcher apart, and has detailed exactly what over on his blog.
You can check out the rest of his stuff (most, if not all of it for free) via that link too, but I’d suggest starting with the ‘Son of Everyone EP’, as that’s the one I remember from that weekend at Greenbelt.
Life has crashed in and taken over just now… slowing everything down to an almost complete stop, but hopefully we’ll have something to show in the new year.
This is the face of Lee, aka Citizen Tank, aka noise-maker in Everyone an Army. Not only is he a fine musician, but he also let me (along with a pile of others) crash on his couch whilst on tour. Not just that, he even cooked breakfast in the morning.
What a guy.
It is him that came up with the beautiful piano playing on the most recent track to be finished from the whole collaborative ditty. You can listen below.
Pulco’s back for the newest collaborative track with his barrage of sketchbook samples… with a much softer feel to the last. Lee from Everyone an Army also played some of the guitar swooshes featured, but there’s more to come from him, so we’ll hold off introductions for now…
Collaboration Preview – Track 3 – ‘marks for effort’
with Burning Buildings
This track is a much softer, less grizzly track than the last one that involved Pulco. It comes with a piano melody courtesy of Manchester’s Burning Buildings. They’re awfully nice chaps, and probably slightly unhinged… but the end product is one that I’m really personally pleased with. Sometimes there are melodies that just fit your vocal-style to a tee, and for me this is one of them. Hopefully you might like it too.
This is an exciting moment, as we get to release the first track from the tentatively titled ‘unexpected bowtie and friends’ collaborative album.
So this is how it’s going to work: to make the most of each track, every so often one will be put online for streaming with a bit of explanation of who’s involved, with the final collection being brought together as a full release later on in the year.
Pictured is Steven Marino, aka Moor Hound. He comes from sunny Orlando, Florida, and plays music after our heart. You can see the banjo, so need I say more?
Moor Hound contributed some wonderfully laid-back guitar parts, and one of them is used on this track. You can read more about him in an interview on Artrocker, find his blog here, Bandcamp here, and Soundcloud tracks here.
Keith needs no introduction really. He’s been making music alongside me almost since I started, and he lent me his percussive hands for a few hours to give this track the structure it badly needed and that I just couldn’t provide. The Keith Appreciation Society page is on Facebook here, and Closet Organ (in which I also sing and play guitar) can be found on Tumblr.
The track is called let’s crash planes when we’re leaving, and is below.